Run, Forrest, Run!

10:52 AMHeather

I love that scene in Forrest Gump when Forrest says, "I was runn-ing."  Yep.  That's the opener for this post.  Yesterday, I was runn-ing.  And, gotta tell you--not to be boastful--but it was a good run for me.  Not because I was fast.  Or because I ran a long, long way.  That's just not me.  At least not yet.  And it sorta had me bummed out.  Because I compare myself to some of my fit friends who easily knock out 5 miles or more in like 20 minutes or something outrageous.  And I see myself as a failure.

But, as my friend Leigh Ann says, it's not fair to compare.  

Yet, still, I've been a bit Eeyore lately about how I can't seem to push past to where I want to be.  I want to be able to knock out about 3 miles easily and regularly.  I want to be able to run a 5K any ole time without thinking twice.  And I'd like to run faster and improve my times.  In case you didn't know this about me, I can be a teensy tiny bit competitive.

Truth of it is, I've been running for about 4 months now.  And I still hit the wall at about 2.5 miles.  I don't run fast and it's a mental battle most days.  I sigh deeply when I read about these amazing runner friends who accomplish more in one run than I seem able to do in a week's worth of runs.

I know.  Woe is me, right?

But not yesterday.  Yesterday, I was in the zone.  I felt it.  I finished that run--albeit 2.75 miles--and I knew I'd made progress.  I knew something was different.  The run just felt good.  Right.  As if I might be hitting my stride.

In my typical overanalyzing manner, I contemplated this and realized there were some life truths from that run that I could share with you today.  Because the longer I do this running thing, the more I see the metaphors to life.  The richer and deeper meaning I find in the Scriptures where the apostle Paul and others compare our lives on earth to running a race.  

In fact, last Sunday, our pastor taught about finishing well from 2 Timothy 4.  This passage has always meant so much to me, but even more so now that I've pushed myself to run.  Yes, I have finished the race and fought the good fight!  I remember that feeling when I crossed the finish line on that first 5K last month.  Exhausted but also euphoric as I knew what I'd accomplished.  

While Pastor Gregg talked about the need for discipline and denying ourselves, I was nodding emphatically as I thought of the dark, cold mornings I dragged myself out of bed to start this 5K training.  Or the days now when I run in the heat of a Texas summer. Of the times when I just want to stop but my husband presses me to keep going. 

Discipline.  Indeed.  Nearly a lost art in our culture.  The fine art of putting your desires behind a strong fence of self-control.  For a greater good.  There's a lifetime worth of blog posts behind this concept.  But for today--I'll just ask you to chew on this question in your own life.  What area of your life do you need to just drop the excuses and choose the hard way through the art of discipline?  Not because it's easy but because it's the obedience you feel God is calling you to do.  What greater blessings and benefits might you be missing because you dare not deny your own natural desires?

Perhaps I was spurred yesterday in my run by this sermon and by these thoughts.  I know for sure that I was renewed in my resolve to be disciplined.  To choose the hard thing rather than the easy thing.  But there were two other key things going on for me.

First of all, I chose a different route.  Instead of the same old path we have been running for four months, I decided we'd run a completely different route.  Ah, yes.  I broke out of a rut.  And it changed my mentality as I ran.  Because I didn't hit those same exact places where I always had--where I knew exactly how much further I had to go.  Now, I was running a new path, trying a new way.  And it renewed my enthusiasm.

How often do we go through our day in a rut?  Doing the same thing we always do?  Going about our parenting or relationships or routine in the same ole way?  And we feel stale in our efforts.  We are going through the motions. The joy is zapped.  The days run together and we end up beat down and defeated in our efforts at the same ole, same ole.

What if?  Just what if we tried something new?  We broke out of the mold and took a fresh approach?  What if we intentionally set a new course for our day?  Tried a new technique in our parenting?  Prayerfully shook up things in our relationships by attempting something new or approaching relationships from a different perpsective?  Our route yesterday was much hillier than the old one.  It was a challenge.  It was harder.  Yet, it felt better.  What if we were mindful to take on a fresh challenge in our day to day routine?  It could make all the difference.  

The second big difference in my run yesterday was how I tried to capture my thoughts.  Instead of the often self-defeating thoughts of how hard the run was or how hot I felt or how comfortable my bed would be right about then, I immediately shut down those thoughts.  Instead, I told myself, "I am a runner.  I can do this!  Look how far I've come."  When I was tempted to think of how I've not attained the goals I'd like to reach, I purposefully remembered the first few weeks of running when any length of time was a chore.  And I twisted those unmet goals from discouragement to motivation by thinking, "If I want to get THERE, I must do THIS."  And it kept me going.

Our thoughts dictate our feelings.  Which dictate our actions and choices and words.  To get a different result in the end, we gotta go back to the beginning.  And mine out the defeating thoughts, saddling them with self-control and making them obedient to Christ's truths of who we are and how He loves us and empowers us.  If we want to finish well, then we must be mindful of our attitude along the way.

Indeed, bloggy friends, we are running this race of life.  It's a marathon and exhausting and we grow weary and tired.  It's hard work, with hills and heat and challenges.  And we just want to quit some days.  But listen--we may not be able to change the task we've been given or the circumstance we are facing.  Yet, we can make all the difference in our journey when we are mindful of how we can be changed ourselves.  Of our approach and path along the way.  Of our thought lives during the race.

I believe that is the sacred work of the Holy Spirit.  The incredible work of being sanctified and molded to be more like Christ.  When we face the challenge we've been given head on and decide we will change what is within our control.  We will reach the same finish line by choosing a different path, a fresh approach.  We will run more freely when we cast off the old ruts we can get into and we try a new way.  We will run with more joy and more endurance when we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.  When we recognize the defeating thoughts of the enemy and we replace them with the hopeful encouragement of Scripture.  When we dig deep to say, "I can do this!  For the sake of the gospel of God, I will run with discipline and fight the good fight and finish the race and keep the faith!" (2 Timothy 4:7)

And although we may cross that finish line with blotchy red faces and tired legs and feeling overheated, we will find a joy in the journey we never before experienced.  When we choose to fix our eyes on the Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, and we run with perserverance (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Let us not forget as we grow tired that he is cheering us on.  Run, dear child, run!

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